I start more games than I finish. I’ve played every mainline, numbered Mega Man game, but I’ve never beaten one. I’ve only beaten a few Final Fantasies and maybe not a single Altus game. It’s not even about the length. There’s plenty of short games that I’ve not seen the credits roll. That’s what I’m thinking about when I play Far Cry: New Dawn.
Every time I boot it up, I wonder when I’m going to eject. Nothing about the game holds me. It has a bland story. The shooting isn’t unique or interesting. While I enjoy a game that isn’t a washed out apocalypse, it’s all overtly coded and doesn’t feel natural to the world it’s in. No part of the game feels like it adds up to more than the most basic shooter. It’s absurdly easy to power up and level up, and even at the recommended difficulty, the game feels like a stale mess.
That’s it. That’s my review. No part of the game imparts any feeling that I should want or try to discover the next experience in it.
But yet, here I am, still playing every few days. I can entirely put this to the fact that I have someone to play with. Playing with someone else is a transformative experience and one more games should think to include. None of Far Cry: New Dawn feels like it’s meant to be experienced with another person. It’s especially not meant to be experienced with someone who is a decidedly chaotic force such as myself.
In this way, one of the most frustrating elements of Far Cry: New Dawn is that it simultaneously is not as interesting as Far Cry: Blood Dragon but also still holds onto any semblance of plot. Trying to accomplish the game’s simple goals is mired in uninteresting dialogue. Cutscenes are forgettable and unwelcome at their length. At a certain point, a narrative project is far enough from being good that its legitimate efforts actually hold it back. It’s not just that the game isn’t interesting. It’s that the game is trying to talk over me as my friend and I are trying to have fun with it.
There’s a strange identity crisis at play here. It knows it’s a sequel to a sequel, but it also wants to be its own experience. The game knows its novelty is that it is a sequel based on the big twist ending, but it doesn’t do anything of note with it. The post apocalypse is pinker than I expected, but that’s about it. It’s realized that its sandbox elements are its most fun, raiding outposts and including these new “expeditions,” but it only makes one of those activities essential and stashes the other away in a menu.
What I’m left with is a beautiful reminder of how much fun I had as a child with a set of painted blocks that were passed down to me. I injected the fun into those blocks. My imagination and wit and chaotic nature made towers rise and fall. I brought the enjoyment and the blocks facilitated me. But I spent years playing with those blocks before, emotionally, I moved past them. I might legitimately have emotionally moved on from Far Cry: New Dawn after its introduction. So, actually, I finish every game I play. Sometimes, that just happens well before the game is over.